January 26 - Wrong About the Cavs
If you regularly listen to The Writers Radio, one of the things you will quickly learn
is that I am one who is not afraid to admit when I am wrong.
I was wrong.
I was absolutely sure – as were a lot of more ardent followers of the Virginia
basketball program – that DePaul’s Dave Leitao was the wrong hire for the
program. But hey, how can we be blamed? When witnessing Virginia’s overtures
to coaches with bigger names and pedigrees such as Kentucky’s Tubby Smith
and West Virginia’s John Beilein, who was fresh off a Final Eight appearance,
Leitao had to look to the outsider like the choice of a university who settled for his
hiring and was content to do the mediocrity limbo for years to come.
Leitao’s record as a head coach was not overwhelming, his successes not tremendously well
documented. He certainly couldn’t leave the relatively safe confines of Conference USA basketball
and make the step to the grueling ACC, could he?
Apparently, he can.
As of this writing, the Cavaliers are 10-6 overall and 4-2 in the ACC after a 20-point hammering of
Miami in University Hall. That 4-2 record is good for a second place tie in the ACC. There were surely
few off the Virginia grounds that expected this team to be where it is, and while they almost assuredly
will not finish the season in their current lofty perch, there is at least reason for hope at Thomas
Leitao has managed to turn bad losses into learning experiences, and he still appears to maintain
the same intensity and coaching style whether up twenty or down twenty, as evidenced by his
chewing out freshman Laurynas Mikalauskas for hanging on the rim after a garbage-time dunk
against Loyola (Md.) and drawing a technical foul.
The culture has changed in Charlottesville, and Leitao is the main catalyst behind that change.
Take heart, Virginia fans. This is one time when you can admit you’re happy to have been wrong.